Northwest Airlines Flight 1

Northwest Airlines Flight 1

Aircraft Accident
Aircraft Accident Less

Northwest Airlines Flight 1

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Northwest Airlines Flight 1, registration NC17389, was a Lockheed 14H Super Electra aircraft which crashed approximately ½ mile southwest of the Miles City, Montana, airport on January 13, 1939. All four on board were killed in the accident.

Flight 1 normally originated in Chicago, Illinois, and ended in Seattle, Washington, via the intermediate stops Minneapolis, Minnesota, Fargo, and Bismarck, North Dakota, Miles City, Billings, and Butte, Montana, and Spokane, Washington. On the date of the accident, the flight actually began in Minneapolis and departed at 4:00 PM local time.

The flight reached Miles City, Montana, at 7:41 PM Mountain time to refuel and take on cargo. Takeoff from Miles City Municipal Airport was delayed for over an hour due to weather conditions at Billings, but the aircraft eventually departed at 9:14 PM with only two passengers on board. Shortly after takeoff, and at an altitude of five hundred feet above ground level (AGL), the aircraft began a short turn to the left, lost altitude rapidly, and descended almost to the ground. It then pulled up into a sharp climb, reached about 500 feet AGL again, turned left again and descended rapidly into a ravine approximately ½ mile southwest of the field.

Investigators with the United States Department of Commerce's Civil Aeronautics Authority (CAA), a predecessor organization to both the FAA and the NTSB, determined that an intense fire had developed in the cockpit shortly after the aircraft had departed the...
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